So today’s post is going to be along the lines of one of last week’s posts, Food Myths, except today I want to educate you a little bit about one misunderstood food, butter. So let’s start with a poll…how many of you use butter? Really, fess up…anyone? How many of you instead use something like Pam or I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter Spray? Let’s look at the nutritional label of I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter Spray (which is virtually the same as the label for Pam):
- Calories: 0
- Calories from Fat: 0
- Total Fat: 0 g
- Total Cholesterol: 0 mg
- Sodium: 0 mg
- Total carbohydrate: 0 g
- Protein: 0 g
- Not a significant source of dietary fiber, sugars, vitamin C, calcium and iron.
Some of you are probably thinking this is the new miracle food…no calories, no fat, no cholesterol, no sodium, no carbohydrates…actually, really nothing. What the heck is it then? Food is made up of macronutrients…protein, fat and carbohydrates…and this product has none of them. Is this really something that you should be including in your diet? Now maybe you’re starting to think I’m a little bit crazy, knocking something that has no calories and no fat. Maybe you’re thinking, “then what am I supposed to use, butter?!” Well, yes, actually I do think that is preferable. “But Lisa, butter is loaded with saturated fat, and we all know fat is bad for you, and saturated fat is particularly bad.” Hopefully some of you read the article last week about coconut oil and are beginning to rethink saturated fat (if you didn’t, take a look at last week’s post, Food Myths). Today, I’m asking you to take a look at the following two blog posts by a couple of guys much smarter than me (and with the nutritional credentials to back them up).
The Truth About Real Butter. This is written by Brian St. Pierre, who also wrote last week’s article about PUFA vegetable oils. This is a great article because Brian not only talks about some of the benefits of butter (from grass-fed cows) but also debunks some of the general misconceptions about saturated fat. A very good read ~ another one that might make you rethink how you view saturated fat.
Butter vs. Margarine Showdown. This is a blog post written by Stephan Guyenet, like Brian, another really smart guy. I have learned a lot from reading his blog posts. This looks at some interesting observations coming out of the Framingham Heart Study.
I switched to butter a number of years ago, not because I understood at the time that saturated fat is not a bad fat, but more because I found myself questioning the health benefits of margarine. One of the things I missed about margarine, however, was it’s spreadability out of the refrigerator, something that is not true for butter. We’ve all tried to spread hard butter on a piece of bread or toast, and end up with a mess. I now use something called a butter bell, a simple little container that looks nice on my kitchen counter and keeps my butter soft. I think I found it in an add at the back of a Real Simple magazine about a year ago. I love it.
If you’re wondering where to find grass-fed butter, here are two sources. The first is Organic Valley Pasture Butter ~ you can find this at Whole Foods.
The other is Kerrygold Irish Butter, which you can sometimes find at places like Stop-n-Shop, although you might need to look in the gourmet cheese section.
I am not advocating going nuts with butter, but a little bit in place of other fats in your diet (and in lieu of margarine or things such as Pam) can be a good thing. I just wouldn’t advocate doing this with your butter (warning, if watching this at work, I strongly recommend you mute this…you get just as much out of it ~ and if you don’t like a lot of cursing, again, mute it. Still funny.):